Earth & Conservation

The Russian Company Causing Riots In Armenia

In June 2015, protests broke out in Armenia when a Russian electric company increased their prices. Here's a look into what happened.

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Last week, protests in Armenia over planned increases in electricity turned violent as more than 230 demonstrators and journalists were detained. The people were marching to the president's house, according to reports by The Washington Post, when police officers began using batons and water cannons against them.

The unrest began after the Armenian Electricity Network announced that it would raise electric bill prices to consumers by up to 22 percent. This immediately provoked responses saying the increases would be unaffordable and that the Armenian Electricity Network was rife with corruption and mismanagement. Protestors have taken to social media, encouraging everyone to skip paying their bills entirely.

The electric company, which is a subsidiary of the Russian company Inter RAO UES, claims the rate increases are necessary to make up for the devaluation of the Armenian national currency. At the same time, the Armenian economy is closely tied to that of Russia. According to Newsweek, Russia contributed 11 percent of Armenia's national income in 2014. However, Russia has been under immense economic strain due to sanctions imposed by the European Union.

For its part, the Armenian government officials maintain the rate increases are reasonable and claims there will be subsidies for poor families. Still, with protestors demanding the hikes be abolished altogether, any resolution appears to be at a standstill for now.

Learn More:

Armenia protests: Electricity price hike suspended (bbc.com)
"The president of Armenia has suspended an increase in electricity prices that led to more than a week of protests."

Kremlin Fears a Revolution in Armenia (bloombergview.org)
"The events of the past five days in Armenia can be followed on Twitter under the hashtag #ElectricYerevan, but they aren't on the front pages of global newspapers."

Armenian protesters block road for third day over energy hikes (america.aljazeera.com)
"A standoff between police and demonstrators protesting a hike in electricity prices blocked the central avenue in Armenia's capital on Wednesday for a third straight day, with no visible progress toward resolving the worst unrest that the impoverished former Soviet nation has seen in years."